In reality, Charles Leclerc became the first driver to defeat four-time Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel during Vettel’s tenure at Ferrari, which began in the 2015 season, and he did it in his first season driving for the Italian team and just his second season competing in Formula 1.
He did it with a series-high seven pole positions and the first two victories of his career. He ultimately placed fourth in the driver standings with 264 points, 24 points clear of Vettel in fifth with 240. Vettel took two pole positions and won one race, both his lowest marks since 2016 when he neither took a pole position nor won a race.
Most notably, Leclerc delivered the Tifosi their first victory on home soil at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix since 2010.
But Jacques Villeneuve is not living in such a reality.
That is, everyone except himself.
Before Ferrari even confirmed the 22-year-old Monegasque as Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement for the 2019 season, there was speculation that the team would confirm this switch. As a result, Villeneuve proceeded to make a statement that now looks almost comical, stating that Vettel would make Leclerc cry.
Here is what he had to say, according to Formula 1.
“Put a young ‘cub’ next to Vettel and what will Vettel do? He’ll try to eat him alive. Either he will destroy the young cub or it will end in tears and the whole team will end up going slower within two years. That’s not constructive.”
His criticism continued throughout the 2019 season, despite the fact that Leclerc was Ferrari’s overall better driver, and by a clear margin; 24 points doesn’t do it justice.
Sure, he made mistakes from time to time, crashing in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, for instance. But compared to Vettel and the mistakes he made, Leclerc was practically perfect.
Vettel got himself into a whole lot of trouble. He spun in the Bahrain Grand Prix, costing himself a podium finish, if not a victory, he caved under pressure in the Canadian Grand Prix before he was penalized for reentering the track in an unsafe manner, he wrecked Max Verstappen in the British Grand Prix, he spun out in the Italian Grand Prix and again reentered the track in an unsafe matter, putting himself at risk of a suspension, and worst of all, he flat-out wrecked Leclerc in the Brazilian Grand Prix by simply driving into him.